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One Of Nation's Few Homeless Shelters For LGBT Youth Opens Doors In San Antonio, Texas

Homeless

One of the nation's few homeless shelters specifically for LGBTQ youth has opened its doors in San Antonio. 

Thrive Youth Center is a 13-bed, 1,400-square-foot facility — including five individual rooms for transgender youth. 

The center, which will serve LGBTQ youth ages 18-25, was initially scheduled to open last year at a downtown church, but that plan was nixed due to zoning issues. The shelter finally opened last week through a partnership with Haven for Hope, a larger facility serving the general homeless population. 

Texas Public Radio reports: 

WhitleyThrive Executive Director Sandra Whitley (right) said Haven has changed its intake process since Thrive came on board, asking new applicants if they required LGBT services. “And if they check yes, then they call one of us over at our office and we come over and talk to the person and see if they’ll be a fit for our program.” ...

Thrive’s initial mission —getting people back on their feet — is being upheld through Haven’s programs. “The services that we were going to offer, the GED program; the career counseling; the job placement, all those things are now located 25 feet from our door,” said Whitley.

Scott Ackerson, a Vice President for Haven for Hope, said they also found space for certain individuals who did not meet Thrive’s 18-25 age group criteria. “We’ve got the capacity to serve an additional 10 LGBT individuals that don’t necessarily fit within Thrive’s target population,” said Ackerson.

According to Thrive Youth Center's website, 50 percent of homeless youth in San Antonio are LGBTQ, mostly as a result of family rejection. And homeless LGBTQ youth on the street are more than twice as likely to commit suicide as other youth on the street.

Meanwhile, nearly nearly one in three transgender men and women report being turned away from homeless shelters because they are transgender, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. 

Before opening Thrive Youth, Whitley and other founders visited the Ali Forney Center in New York City and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles — two of the only other homeless shelters in the nation for LGBTQ youth. Whitley, whose parents once sent her to a mental hospital because she was gay, sold her business last year so she could run the shelter. 

For more information on the Thrive Youth Center or to make a donation, go here. And to listen to the stories of some of the youth who'll be served by the facility, go here

With any luck, Thrive Youth Center can serve as a model for shelters serving homeless LGBTQ youth across Texas and in other red states — where the facilities are often most needed due to high levels of family rejection.

Watch a video report from last year about plans for the Thrive Youth Center, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "One Of Nation's Few Homeless Shelters For LGBT Youth Opens Doors In San Antonio, Texas" »


Anti-Gay Texas House Candidate Calls Opponent 'El Diablo' For Supporting LGBT Rights

Bernal

Last month we told you about Nunzio Previtera, the rabidly anti-LGBT Texas House candidate who says God didn't intend people to be gay. 

NunzioWith early voting now under way in his runoff against former Councilman Diego Bernal, who authored San Antonio's LGBT protections, Previtera (right) is at it again. This time, his supporters reportedly are distributing the hateful anti-gay flier shown above. 

OutInSA.com reports: 

A group of supporters of Republican candidate Nunzio Previtera, calling themselves Tejanos Against Politicos, is distributing a flyer to voters in Texas House District 123 that shows two men kissing and former City Councilman Diego Bernal, Previtera’s Democratic rival in the race, depicted as “El Diablo,” the devil.

The two men kissing, of course, are gay Marines Brandon Morgan and Dalan Wells. So it seems that in addition to Bernal, Previtera's supporters are attacking all military servicemembers. 

But the worst part is that Previtera was endorsed this week by Texas Rebublican Gov. Greg Abbott. From OutInSA.com

Governor Greg Abbott rolled into San Antonio on February 11 to offer his endorsement of Nunzio Previtera, the Republican anti-LGBT candidate who’s running against Democrat Diego Bernal in the race for Texas House District 123.

The governor spoke to a group of about 150 people who gathered at a local pizzeria off Blanco Road saying, “We don’t need another Nancy Pelosi-type Democrat in Austin, we need Nunzio.”


Gay Texas Couples Ask 5th Circuit To Allow Same-Sex Marriages Immediately

DeLeon

Yesterday we reported that same-sex couples in Missouri and South Dakota had asked federal judges to allow marriages to begin immediately in those states. 

Now attorneys for two same-sex couples in Texas, including Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman (above) have done the same. 

Like the Missouri and South Dakota motions, the Texas filing relies on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this week to allow same-sex marriages to begin in Alabama

The Texas Observer reports: 

LaneIf the 5th Circuit doesn't lift the stay for all same-sex couples, the motion asks that it be lifted for the limited purpose of establishing the parental rights of plaintiff Cleopatra DeLeon, whose wife, Nicole Dimetman, is expecting a child in March.

The motion cites the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to halt same-sex marriages in both Alabama and Florida, after federal district judges struck down bans in those states. The high court will hear appeals in April from four states where same-sex marriage bans were upheld. ... 

Neel Lane (right), an attorney for the couples, said in a statement he remains confident the 5th Circuit will rule in favor of marriage equality.

"But same-sex marriages are proceeding across the South and Southwest, while Texas remains the most populous state where gays and lesbians are deprived of that right," Lane said. "Today we urge the Fifth Circuit to remedy that omission immediately.”

The Texas motion includes powerful arguments in favor of lifting the stay at least for DeLeon, outlining the many steps the couple would have to go through for her to adopt their expected daughter, and explaining that if something happens to Dimetman during childbirth, she may never be able to do so. 

"If Dimetman is otherwise incapacitated, DeLeon’s right and ability to care for the child will be far from assured, as she will not have parental rights unless and until the adoption is completed. Thus, DeLeon may not be able to rock the baby to sleep; she may not be able to comfort the baby when he or she is upset; she may not be able to direct the baby’s medical care. Adoption takes time, and if something happens to Dimetman, time will not be a luxury that DeLeon and the baby have."

Last February, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia struck down Texas' marriage ban as unconstitutional, but stayed his decision pending the state's appeal to the 5th Circuit, which heard oral arguments last month. 

Observers believe a 5th Circuit panel is likely to rule in favor of marriage equality, but it's unclear whether it will do so before the Supreme Court addresses the issue. The high court will hear appeals in April from four states where marriage bans were upheld.

In December, Judge Garcia denied a motion to lift the stay in Texas — but that was before the Supreme Court allowed marriages to begin in Alabama and Florida. 

Read the full motion, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Gay Texas Couples Ask 5th Circuit To Allow Same-Sex Marriages Immediately" »


Texas GOP Candidate Says God Didn't Intend For People To Be Gay As Supporters Attack Rival Over Bathhouse

Nunzio

Last week, we told you how the Republican Party in San Antonio had rejected a hateful anti-LGBT resolution. 

But apparently the spirit of the resolution lives on in the heart and platform of at least one GOP candidate in the Alamo City. 

Nunzio Previtera (above), who advanced to a runoff for the Texas House District 123 seat in a special election earlier this month, recently told the city's daily newspaper that he doesn't believe God intended people to be gay. 

San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff reports:  

“Marriage is a biblical concept,” the candidate told me. “Marriage was first talked about in the Bible. And the Bible very specifically said that marriage is between a man and woman. ... My study of the Bible gives me very specific views about homosexuality. I don’t believe that God intended that to be the way people act.”

At the same time, Previtera said, “Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only person who can judge.”

BernalPrevitera is in a runoff against former San Antonio City Councilman Diego Bernal (right), a Democrat who authored the city's LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance passed in 2013.

Anti-LGBT groups fought bitterly against the ordinance, and after it passed they threatened to recall Bernal. Not surprisingly, Previtera is attacking Bernal over the ordinance, and in doing so he is channeling then-Councilwoman Elisa Chan, who called gays and lesbians "disgusting." 

From The Express-News' Chasnoff: 

“What percentage of the population of this town does it affect?” he asked. “It’s not that important of an issue to the people of this district or even the people of Bexar County. ... (The LGBT community is) very much a minority.”

Previtera applies the same dismissive logic to the rest of his criticism of Bernal on the topic.

“The federal and state laws in America and Texas already provide punishment remedies when citizens abuse other citizens,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Allowing local governments to single out ANY class of citizens for preferential treatment is Discrimination by any definition of the word.”

Previtera is endorsed by right-wing groups including the Christian Coalition of America and the Leadership Institute for Public Policy. Among its reasons for endorsing Previtera, the Leadership Institute cites Bernal's refusal to stop Terrence McNally's gay-themed Christian play, "Corpus Christi," from showing in the city, as well the former councilman's support for domestic partner benefits and his alleged failure to shut down a gay bathhouse in his district. 

From the Leadership Institute

In the summer of 2011, the obscene and blasphemous play, Corpus Christi, was showcased in the city-owned San Pedro playhouse located in District 1, an enterprise subsidized by the city. The play portrayed our Lord, Jesus Christ, and His apostles throughout the performance in lewd and prurient ways as active homosexuals. Christian organizations repeatedly presented their complaints before the City Council during the summer of 2011 requesting that the blasphemous play be canceled. Bernal, the Mayor, and the majority of his fellow councilmen refused to take any action. ... 

Bernal refused to respond to questions and concerns from citizens regarding the gay bath house in his district (ACI) on Elmira Street which city health inspectors avoided in spite of the city’s Metropolitan Health District office’s findings that HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases were on the rise in San Antonio primarily in the reckless sexual behavior of the MSM (men having sex with men) population.

Fortunately, Bernal is heavily favored to win the House seat in the solidly Democratic district. And once he joins the Legislature, he'll be uniquely qualified to defend local nondiscrimination ordinances against attacks by Republican lawmakers, who want to ban them and enshrine a "license to discriminate" in the state Constitution.

As for Previtera, he'll go back to his insurance business, Integrity Insurance Agency, but we suspect he may lose a few clients. 


San Antonio GOP Rejects Resolution Calling For Repeal Of 'Pro-Homosexual Policies'

Finger

Last month, we reported that a Republican Party committee in San Antonio had submitted a resolution to the county GOP calling for "the repeal of our local governments’ pro-homosexual policies." 

The resolution, authored by anti-gay activist Jack Finger (above), demanded that GOP elected officials roll back the city's LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, as well as domestic partner benefits for city and county employees. Otherwise, the proposal threatened, voters would "'throw the rascals out' and elect officials who will carry out the resolution." 

On Jan. 8, the Bexar County GOP Executive Committee rejected the resolution, according to San Antonio gay Republican Justin Nichols. OutInSA reports:  

“The resolution in question was the last agenda item,” says Nichols. “After Mr. Finger’s fear mongering presentation, the floor was opened for discussion. Not a single precinct chair spoke in favor of the resolution, with at least four other people speaking against it on various grounds. I spoke last, and the question was called. I don’t recall the exact vote, but it was approximately 54-21, a margin of nearly 2 to 1, rejecting the resolution, which was then declared to have failed.”

Nichols says he told the assembly that the resolution did not reflect the “true priorities of the party” but reflected “one man’s peculiar obsession with the topic of sexuality.”

Nichols added that Finger was alone in spreading his anti-LGBT message. “Beside Jack’s befuddled scrambling to hand out his classic bush-league leaflets, and his own absurd explanation of the NDO, not a single person at the meeting spoke a word of disdain or disrespect for any LGBT person or group.  I was really very pleased at the speed with which the party ended Jack’s charade and got on to real business.”

Although it's commendable that the precinct chairs rejected the resolution, it's still disturbing that one-third of them voted in favor of it. Sadly, it's this one-third that is most active in party primaries and maintains a virtual stranglehold on the Texas GOP. Which explains why Republican state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would ban local LGBT protections and punish county clerks for issuing same-sex marriage licenses. 

But hey, baby steps, right? 


San Antonio GOP Resolution Demands Repeal Of 'Pro-Homosexual Policies'

BexarGOPLogoHPEmboldened by November election results, a Republican Party committee in San Antonio has submitted a resolution to the county GOP calling for "the repeal of our local governments’ pro-homosexual policies." 

The resolution, first reported by Out In SA, calls for the repeal of San Antonio's nondiscriination ordinance passed last year, as well as policies extending benefits to the same-sex partners of city and county employees.

The measure's passage followed months of public debate, public prayer against it, and headlines over City Councilwoman Elisa Chan's remarks on the bill, in which she called LGBT people "disgusting".

The resolution begins by referencing several anti-gay planks from the Texas GOP platform, including one which states that "homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit." 

The resolution then erroneously states that "homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered persons already have constitutionally protected civil rights," before grossly mischaracterizing provisions of the San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance. 

Finally, the resolution threatens that if Republicans in San Antonio, the nation's seventh-largest city, don't repeal the measures, the party will urge voters to "'throw the rascals out' and elect officials who will carry out the resoution." 

From Out In SA:  

FingerIt should come as no surprise that the chairman of the committee that drafted the resolution is Jack M. Finger, perennial City Council gadfly and self-proclaimed homophobe.

Finger was one of 14 applicants who sought to fill the unfinished term of former City Councilman Diego Bernal. During his interview before the City Council, Finger said he “had friends in the homosexual community.”

The resolution, signed by 10 members of Finger's group, will be submitted to the county Republican Party's executive committee on Jan. 8. 

Read the resolution and watch a 2011 video of Finger speaking out against domestic partner benefits and the, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "San Antonio GOP Resolution Demands Repeal Of 'Pro-Homosexual Policies'" »


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